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Why is Carson Wentz starting again for Commanders? Ron Rivera benches Taylor Heinicke to keep playoff hopes alive

Out with the old, in with the new-old.

Carson Wentz was brought in to win big games for the Commanders, and now he’ll have an opportunity to actually do just that in Week 17.

Reports indicate that the Commanders have decided to bench Taylor Heinicke in favor of Wentz, who has not started a game since Week 6 while dealing with a finger injury. Wentz made his return to the field in Week 16, replacing an ineffective Heinicke.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that both QBs were informed of the change on Wednesday morning.

MORE: NFL power rankings — Where Commanders stand entering Week 17

Rapoport says that part of the reason that Rivera is making the switch is Heinicke’s inability to finish drives: During the Commanders’ 0-2-1 stretch, they’ve been outscored 77-52, tallying 20, 12 and 20 points in those games. Heinicke has thrown three touchdowns over that span.

Wentz started the 2022 season as the starter but suffered the ring finger injury and ultimately lost the starting gig to the hot hand in Heinicke. Heinicke and the Commanders turned a 2-4 start into 7-5, but has remained winless in their last three games to settle at 7-7-1 entering a pivotal Week 17 matchup vs. the Browns.

Wentz threw 10 touchdowns to six interceptions over his first six starts, with general lackluster performances. In his Christmas eve return, he went 12-of-16 passing for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Adding to the intrigue of the QB situation is what awaits after Week 17: If the Commanders are playing a meaningless Week 18 matchup, then the team could take a look at quarterback Sam Howell, who Washington selected in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

For now, it’s Wentz’s show — for better or worse.

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